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The harvest season for Alaska pollock, the nation’s largest fishery which accounts for approximately 30 percent of all U.S. seafood landings by weight, opens Sunday, Jan. 20.
Harvested using mid-water trawls designed to minimize the effects on the marine environment, the Alaska pollock fishery averages 1 percent of non-targeted species (bycatch) annually. The comprehensive federal pollock observer program assigns federally trained scientists to all harvesting vessels and processing locations in order to monitor and record all catches of Alaska pollock and any incidentally caught species. In addition, all vessels are equipped with Vessel Monitoring Systems that track vessel locations at all times.
The annual Alaska pollock TAC is set by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which determines sustainable catch levels. Using decades of survey information and population estimates, scientists make a conservative recommendation each year on the amount of Alaska pollock that can be sustainably harvested, also known as the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC). Based on the scientists’ recommendation, the Council sets the annual TAC, or quota, for the fishery, and for the past 30 years, the TAC has been set at or below the ABC to ensure the continued success of the Alaska pollock fishery. This reliance on science is a hallmark of Alaska’s sustainable fisheries management system.
The 2013 Alaska pollock Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska is 1,387,146 metric tons, 3.8 percent higher than last year’s TAC of 1,335,944 metric tons.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) -- a partnership of the State of Alaska and the Alaska seafood industry -- works to promote the benefits of wild and sustainable Alaska seafood and offer seafood industry education.